By DOTTY NIST
RV industry developer Jay Howard recently indicated that he will no longer pursue an RV park/water park project at the Mossy Head Industrial Park.
A copy of an email from Howard stating his decision was included with the agenda for the March 25 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting at the Walton County Courthouse.
At the March 11 BCC meeting, Howard had spoken to the commissioners about his interest in purchasing a 50-acre parcel to the east of the Love’s Travel Stop site at the county-owned industrial park. He had envisioned an upscale RV resort at the industrial park with approximately 200 spots, supported by a water park that could be seen from I-10, with an RV dealership and service center to be added later, followed by other businesses depending on demand, including a restaurant and hotel. Howard said he could foresee the creation of approximately 160 jobs with his development.
Discussion at the March 11 BCC meeting had revealed that Howard had made offers on the property, beginning at $5,000 an acre. It was indicated that his last official offer had been for $10,000 per acre.
At that meeting, Howard did not make another official offer but asked if the BCC would entertain the idea of a price of $15,000 per acre.
Love’s Travel Stop was the first business to purchase property at the industrial park, with Love’s paying $33,000 per acre for the first 15 acres purchased. Fronting SR-285, this was considered the prime parcel of the park property. Subsequently, Love’s purchased an additional seven acres, on which to locate a Sleep Inn and IHOP restaurant, at the cost of $20,000 per acre.
The county commission held the line at $20,000 per acre for other purchasers of property at the park, including Empire Trucks/Southern Tire Mart and Brian Brigman, whose purchase of 10 acres for a used truck sales business was approved on March 11 by the BCC.
Also at that meeting, the BCC had opted to respond to Howard’s last official offer of $10,000 per acre for the 50-acre parcel with a counter offer of $20,000 per acre.
“After careful consideration we have decided not to pursue our project there,” Howard stated in his March 18 email.
Howard explained that the lack of flexibility for price on property in the industrial park, coupled with his having lost out on the road frontage that he had desired, was “simply a ‘game changer’” for him.
Wishing Walton County success with the industrial park, Howard concluded, “I do hope we find ways to work together in the future.”
At the March 25 BCC meeting, Walton County Administrator Larry Jones reported to the commission that he had thanked Howard for his interest and encouraged him to get back in touch on any future possibilities.